The pros and cons of High Intensity Interval Training
Fitness fads come and go - does anyone remember Reebok Slide classes? - but HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) has proven it's no one season wonder.
HIIT training offers high intensity exercise which is challenging to the point of near exhaustion, but it gets results.
So what is HIIT? High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) involves multiple short intervals of cardio, resistance and strength exercises, alternating them throughout a single workout.
The idea is to perform each exercise with maximum effort, thus burning more calories in a shorter period of time.
Studies have shown that in the 24 hours following a HIIT workout your body will continue to burn fat while building lean muscle, creating a stronger silhouette.
But, there are some things to keep in mind if you are considering starting a HIIT program and always remember to consult your doctor if you have any prior health conditions or issues before starting any new exercise programme. Beyond that, here are the main pros and cons of starting a HIIT exercise programme.
It takes very little time
HIIT is a super-efficient workout. It can be completed in a relatively short period of time - perfect for busy lifestyles. A 2011 study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting revealed that 2 weeks of high-intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6 to 8 weeks of endurance training.
You don't need any specialised equipment
HIIT focuses on exercises which get your heart rate up quickly.
Things like running on the spot, lunges, squats, push ups, can all be included in a HIIT workout without the need for specialised equipment. This reduces the cost of starting this sort of exercise programme and means you can, effectively, do it any time, in any place.
You can quickly build up your endurance
Most people aren't used to pushing into the anaerobic zone - where you are working at an intensity of 80% to 90% of your maximum heart rate - but HIIT certainly gets results. One 2006 study found that after 8 weeks of doing HIIT workouts, subjects could cycle twice as long as they could before the study, while maintaining the same pace.
You'll increase your metabolism
HIIT workouts stimulate production of your human growth hormone (HGH) by up to 450 percent during the 24 hours after you finish your workout. This is great news since HGH is not only responsible for increased caloric burn but also slows down the aging process.
You lose fat not muscle
Studies show that both weight training and HIIT workouts allow those dieting to maintain their muscle mass while reducing fat reserves.
You could hurt yourself
There is no point in starting a HIIT programme if you don't know how to do the exercises correctly. Poor form will not only reduce the benefits you gain from each exercise, you could also seriously injure yourself. Make sure you know how to perform each exercise properly and only speed up your repetitions (Reps) when you are sure you have proper form. If you aren't confident about doing HIIT on your own then take a class in your local gym, that way the instructor can ensure you do each exercise correctly.
You get out what you put in
The key to success with HIIT is to push yourself to maximum effort for the entire length of each exercise. If you don't give each rep maximum effort you won't achieve your fitness goals.
This is not for those with heart or blood pressure problems
Because you can change from an upright exercise to one in which you may be lying on the floor, this is not a suitable exercise programme for anyone with blood pressure issues. The intensity of the exercise level isn't ideal for those who suffer heart problems or palpitations. Consult a doctor if you are unsure if you are suitable for HIIT.